I think it’s safe to say this generation was all about the zombies. Every game you can imagine has had some type of mode or gameplay feature that has you fighting against the zombie hoard. Not all of them were good, but some stick out as decent if not fantastic games. Dead Nation is one of those proverbial zombie survivors that hold it’s own in the ocean of zombie shooters.
You play as either two of the game’s survivors in single player through 10 levels of zombie hell, or you and a buddy can take on the hoard in both local and online co-op.
The developer, Housemarque is the mastermind behind Super Stardust HD, and if you have played Super Stardust, you will see the similarities right away. There’s even a nice robotic sounding female voice that says stuff when you switch weapons or hit checkpoints just like in Super Stardust. The game is a twin stick shooter with a semi-isometric/top down viewpoint. You can aim with the right stick and move with the left. You can utilize grenades and flares as well as shoulder charge and melee through the zombie crowd.
Zombies are attracted to sounds and light such as a car alarm and flares. Shoot a car and trigger the alarm and attract zombies to it right before it blows up in their faces. There’s actually some strategy involved when maneuvering and positioning yourself for the best plan of attack.
The game, while small in scale, has some of the best graphics and lighting effects I have seen in a downloadable title. When lightning strikes, you can briefly see the entire area for a second, and flares and car lights give off just enough light for you to see maybe two feet in front of you. It really is well done. You pretty much have to scan the area with your flashlight in order to see if the undead are running your way.
You will run into checkpoints that refill your health and hold a weapons show for you to buy new weapons, swap out armor parts, and refill your ammo. You can find money, ammo, and new armor parts in car trunks, hidden boxes, and of course, by killing zombies. There are certain parts in the game where you must defend yourself in an area for a certain amount of time or until you’ve killed all the enemies in the area. It’s almost like a last stand kind of deal that serves somewhat as a boss fight. The game also features a points system with a multiplier. Each time you kill a zombie, your multiplier will increase and will continue to increase until you are hit by an enemy. This along with the presentation really gives it that “arcadey” feel, which really makes this game such a blast.
One of the really nice features of the game is the world score and country score. You are always contributing to your country’s score each time you play. Now, it doesn’t really affect your game, but it’s always nice to see how many zombies have been killed and are being killed around the world.
Like I said before, the presentation is top notch, the music is a mixture of techno and trance combined with some hard rock elements. It gets you pumped and ready to shoot some zombie heads. The story is there, but it’s a little on the cheesy side, and there is a semi-different stories when playing it co-op.
The only downside to the game is that at the current moment, there is no voice chat while playing online. The developers have already stated that they are working on a patch to allow voice chat, but until then, you’re stuck with “dead silence.” See what I did there?
All in all, Dead Nation is a rather fun game both in co-op and single player. It will take you around 3-4 hours to get through the main story, but you can easily sink in 8-9 playing through it numerous times on different difficulties and by playing with friends. The visuals are stunning, and the presentation will leave you rather amused, and this is all for $15. You may be tired of zombies by now, but even if you are, this is one downloadable game that is worth checking out.
Review copy provided by publisher.